The Seychelles is a group of islands in the Indian Ocean, east of Africa. It’s home to many endemic species, some of which have made their way onto lists of endangered birds and animals. In fact, you can spot around 220 different types of birds on the various islands and atolls of the Seychelles archipelago. However, only 12 of these species are native to the Seychelles. Moreover, of the 12, 10 species of birds are subject to various degrees of vulnerability. Below are some of these endangered species:
The Seychelles Warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis), also known as the Seychelles brush warbler, is a small bird living on the Seychelles islands. It can be found in forests and woodlands, where it nests in trees. The warbler has a brown back, light underside, and a distinctive dark eye stripe. Its diet consists mainly of insects and other invertebrates that it finds by probing into the soil or pouncing upon prey from low bushes or branches. It defends itself against predators by mimicking the calls of other local species.
The warbler’s population is threatened; however, the numbers since 1968 have increased. During 1968 there were a mere 29 known birds in the wild. Today the number has increased to over 3 000, saving it from extinction. The decrease in numbers is due to habitat loss caused by development projects such as road building, tourist developments, and agricultural expansion.
The Seychelles magpie-robin is the national bird of the country and is endemic to it. This medium-sized bird is a member of the oriole family, which also includes crows and jays. Magpie-robins are black and white birds with long tails that they spread as they fly around their territory. The bill is black, as are the legs and feet. The males have bright orange cheeks that help them attract mates during the breeding season!
The Seychelles magpie-robin lives in forested areas where trees provide protection from predators, like cats or owls. They are a monogamous species (meaning they only have one mate), so you will often find them paired up together during mating season from February to March each year! That said, this bird is the most endangered of all the native birds on the Seychelles. For instance, in 1981, there were only 18 birds, all located on Frégate island, with reintroduction to other islands mostly unsuccessful. However, the abandonment of agriculture on Frégate island has assisted in restoring the numbers to some degree.
Seychelles Paradise flycatcher
The Seychelles Paradise flycatcher (or the Vev in Creole) is endemic to La Digue and resides in thick woodlands and forests. The bird’s diet consists mostly of insects, but it also eats berries, fruit, and seeds when available.
The male Paradise flycatcher has a bright blue head with black ear coverts (the feathers over its ears). Its wings are black with white spots, while its tail feathers are a shiny greenish blue colour with red tips on some tail feathers.
The female has less blue colouring than does the male; and instead has more brown markings on its body along with green spots near the neck that extend down onto their breasts. This makes them appear as though they are wearing a necklace.
However, these birds are highly endangered. Rats and cats on La Digue are the main causes of the low numbers. Some attempts have been made to relocate some of the birds to other islands. Still, this native remains critically endangered.
The Seychelles sunbird is a small, slender, but rather drab brown bird, with a long down-curved bill. It is a common bird in the Seychelles and can be found on the islands of Mahé, Praslin, and La Digue. This small bird is named after Jean-Jacques Dussumier, a French explorer.
Not an endangered species, the sunbird can be found feeding on nectar from various plants from hibiscus flowers in woodlands to domestic gardens. A male sunbird may have several mates during its lifetime. Even if you can’t spot them, you can hear their mix of scratchy and squeaky notes.
Praslin Scops Owl
The Praslin Scops owl is a small compact owl with a short tail and ear tufts that are so small they are invisible. This owl is a mere 19 to 22 cm in height on average, with a wingspan of 17 cm. The bare-legged scops owl might not be the smallest rare bird species in the world or even the largest, but its low numbers are concerning. The plumage does not appear as anything special − the bare-legged scops owl has a mostly rufous brown colouring mixed in with streaks of black.
In 1906 it was believed that this owl was extinct; however, in 1956 one was spotted. Today there are around 330 individuals but their low numbers are extremely concerning. This owl is therefore a very rare bird in the world.
Seychelles Black Parrot
The black parrot is endemic to the granitic Seychelles islands, particularly Praslin, and is severely threatened. This bird is also referred to as the Praslin parrot. The bird is medium-sized and sombre-coloured. Although it appears black, it is rather a dark grey colour. The black parrot will nest and breed in old hollow trees, and live on a diet of mostly fruit. Their liking for fruit has made them enemies of the locals, especially those with mango and other fruit trees. This has reduced their numbers, and currently there are only around 600 mature birds on the Seychelles.
Now you know the endemic bird species of the Seychelles!
If you are an ornithologist, then the Seychelles should be on your list of places to visit. More so, if you are looking to see rare bird species, then this small archipelago located in the Indian Ocean is a must. The best way to see as many birds as possible is to do some island hopping as some species are only on one particular island. However, besides the native birds, there are also several migrant birds that come annually to the islands. These include the ruddy turnstone, whimbrel, greater and lesser sand plover, grey plover, crab plover, common ringed plover, curlew sandpiper, common sandpiper, sanderling, bar-tailed godwit, Eurasian curlew, barn swallow and common greenshank. There are also various vagrant bird species, for instance, the common cuckoo, the broad-billed roller, the European and blue-cheeked bee-eater, sand martin, northern wheatear, willow warbler, collared and black-winged pratincole, Eleanora’s falcon and the Eurasian hobby.